“Will You Enter The Promised Land?”

Will You Enter The Promised Land?

David Sproule

 From the time that Israel arrived at Mount Sinai, God started making promises to them that He repeated for the next 40 years.  Many of those promises centered around the land that was promised to Abraham and how God was going to give it to Israel.  Regarding the vile, sinful inhabitants of the land, God time after time promised Israel, “I will…drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you…I will drive them out from before you…For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you” (Ex. 23:27-31).  A year later, God promised, “I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite” (Ex. 33:2).  Forty years later, the Lord still promised, “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you…He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites” (Deut. 7:22; Josh. 3:10).

So, why is it, when we turn to read about the conquest of the land that we repeatedly read statements like the following?  “The children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites…the children of Judah could not drive them out…they did not drive out the Canaanites…they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland…Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites…Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants…Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites…Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants…Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants…Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants…” (Josh. 13:13; 15:63; 16:10; Judg. 1:19-36).

What happened?  Why didn’t God keep His promise and drive out all of these inhabitants as He said He would?  God specifically said, “I will never break My covenant with you” (Judg. 2:1).  Read that again.  Throughout the forty years leading up to the conquest of Canaan, God had repeatedly warned Israel, “You shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land” (Judg. 2:2; cf. Ex. 23:32; 34:12-17; Deut. 7:2).  Keep reading Judges 2:2 where God says, “But you have not obeyed My voice.  Why have you done this?”

God’s promises are always conditional.  He promised over and over to drive out the evil inhabitants of the land, but those promises were conditioned upon Israel completely driving those inhabitants out and not being led astray from the Lord by them (Ex. 23:32-33; 34:12-17; Deut. 4:23-31).  When Israel violated the covenant, God was not obligated to fulfill His promises.  Think about that for us today.  God has promised salvation and eternal life to us repeatedly, yet those promises are conditioned upon our obedience (Heb. 5:8-9; Matt. 7:21-23).  May God help us to learn from Israel and obey our God, so that we can possess our Promised Land in heaven.